The experiences of Reuter and Skellchock and Bennett are not unusual. According to Ellis, more than half of the contracts Redfin’s agents have written this year have faced multiple offers. That’s left real estate agents and their buyers looking for unusual ways to encourage sellers to accept offers.
Rachel Musiker of Redfin has heard of buyers stalking sellers on social media — Facebook, Linkedin — to find out information they can use to their advantage, such as if the sellers are getting divorced or if they have friends in common.
Robyn Burdett, a real estate agent with Re/Max Allegiance, took a personal approach with her buyers. Her client needed to find a house fast. The military wife with five children had flown in from out of town and had four days to look at properties. She found one she liked, called her husband aboard the ship he was serving on in the Arabian Sea and put in an offer.
But before the offer was turned in, Burdett learned there were two more offers on the table. She went back to her clients, who agreed to strengthen their offer by proposing a two-month rent-back to the sellers.
Burdett told the listing agent that she wanted to drop off the offer in person and brought her client along in hopes that the seller would be home. The buyer and seller met and had so much in common that they ended up bonding. That evening, the listing agent called to say that the sellers “want [the buyer] to have the house,” Burdett said.
Finding a pre-market house
Suzanne Granoski, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty, also used a rent-back to win a bidding war. Because she knew the condominium in Arlington County that her buyers wanted would draw multiple offers, she called the listing agent to find out what the sellers’ needs and desires were. That’s when she learned that they hadn’t found their next home.
Granoski’s clients put in an escalation clause as well as an offer of a free rent-back for six weeks after settlement, an incentive valued in excess of $5,000.
“We won a multi-contract bidding war without having to increase our initial offer price,” Granoski said.
Koki Adasi, an associate broker with Long & Foster, said he tries to avoid bidding wars altogether.
“I’m getting more requests from buyers who are trying to find stuff offline, that have not hit the marketplace,” he said.
Adasi recently found a property for one of his clients just by being nosy. As he and his wife were coming back from playing basketball at a neighborhood park, Adasi noticed three houses under renovation. He stopped to talk to the contractor, who gave him the names of the owners. One owner said he wasn’t selling, but the other one was interested in making a deal before it went on the market.
Adasi’s client, who had been frustrated after being outbid on four properties, got the house.
“Another way that I’ve found properties — actually, the way I found my own residence — if you have a buyer who likes a condo building or likes a block in the city, simply send out a letter to the owners that says, ‘I have a buyer who is looking for property in the neighborhood,’ ” Adasi said. “We always get responses, always.”
Most real estate agents say this latest trend doesn’t appear to signal a return to the crazy days when buyers were putting in escalation clauses that went way above asking price and waiving inspection and appraisal contingencies.
“I don’t think we’ll ever get to 2005, 2007. The reason I say that is because it was such an eye-opener,” Marshall Park, Redfin’s D.C. market manager, said. “I think with the [lending] restrictions we’ve put in place, the fear of what happened, I don’t think it will get to that ever again. I really don’t.
“The difference is, back in those times, there was inventory. People were just listing their houses at will. . . . With low inventory, anytime a place is priced right, shows well and is in a good location, our agents already know, before they even write the offer, there [are] going to be multiple offers on this property.”